Between 20-21 October 2020, the Co-Chairs of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime held the fifteenth meeting of the Ad Hoc Group Senior Officials (AHG SOM) virtually.
In attendance were representatives from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Thailand, Unites States (USA) and Vietnam. Observers included Canada and the United Kingdom and representatives from the ILO, the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration, the FAST Secretariat, and the GABF Secretariat (Walk Free, an initiative of the Minderoo Foundation).
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss progress toward implementing the Bali Process Ministerial Declarations and Regional Support Office (RSO) work plans and review interests and forward objectives of Bali Process members, in the context of COVID-19.
- Members agreed on the need for the Bali Process to continue to develop practical, flexible measures, build capacity of members and convene important discussions to support members to respond to the border management challenges posed by COVID-19.
- The UNODC, UNHCR and IOM provided recommendations to address the impact of COVID-19 on migrants and refugees across Asia and the Pacific, and the situation in countries particularly affected by recent maritime irregular migration.
- The Government and Business Forum (GABF) would continue to convene virtually and would continue to take a sector focus to support businesses and governments to achieve the AAA (Acknowledge, Act, Advance) recommendations adopted by Ministers in 2018.
- The Bali Process Working Group on Trafficking in Persons (WG-TIP) will host an online workshop on the Compendium of Good Practice Examples to Combat Exploitation in Supply Chains ahead of the sixth annual meeting on 10 November as well as a series of online workshops in 2021 on building regional cooperation to combat trafficking in persons.
- New Zealand and Fiji, Co-Chairs of the Working Group on the Disruption of People Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons Networks (WG-Disruption) updated on efforts to refresh the Group’s format and workplan and distributed a concept note for the Ad Hoc Group to consider.
- A proposed simulation-based exercise for the Task Force on Planning and Preparedness (TFPP) would be deferred until international travel restrictions eased.
- Members received the report of the Ad Hoc Policy Experts Gathering of the TFPP held in July 2020 to discuss the unprecedented border management challenges in the context of COVID-19.
- IOM and the RSO are working to convene workshops and develop tools and data to help capture the challenges associated with the management of sustainable returns and reintegration under the Technical Experts Group on Returns and Reintegration (TEG-RR).
- Members commended the RSO for adopting flexible approaches to capacity building and training activities that support members.